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Ex-Arizona assistant Mark Phelps to coach Prolific Prep, where Nathan Bittle will play

NCAA Basketball: Northern Colorado at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Normally, having a coach with connections to the Arizona Wildcats take over a program that includes a top recruiting target would be a good thing. That might not be the case this time, however, considering how that coach’s tenure ended.

Mark Phelps, a former UA assistant, has been hired as coach at Northern California private school Prolific Prep, the same school where 5-star center Nathan Bittle is reportedly transferring for his senior year.

Phelps was part of Sean Miller’s staff from 2015 until February 2019, when the UA placed him on administrative leave with the intention of terminating him. He reportedly was suspended because of a “fraudulent online course” involving former UA commit Shareef O’Neal, an accusation Phelps’ attorney vehemently denied.

Phelps had previously been suspended without pay for reportedly buying a plane ticket for former UA forward Keanu Pinder.

At Prolific, which is in Napa, Phelps will inherit a roster that includes 4-star guard Arterio Morris (a Memphis commit) and 4-star forward Kamari Lands. The latest addition is Bittle, who the Oregonian reported Wednesday is transferring to from Crater High School in Central Point, Ore.

The 6-foot-10 Bittle, ranked by 247Sports as the No. 9 player in the 2021 recruiting class, has Arizona in his final four along with Gonzaga, Oregon and UCLA.